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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2020-358
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2020-358
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  17 Aug 2020

17 Aug 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

Anatomy of the 2018 agricultural drought in The Netherlands using in situ soil moisture and satellite vegetation indices

Joost Buitink1, Anne M. Swank1, Martine van der Ploeg1,2, Naomi E. Smith3, Harm-Jan F. Benninga4, Frank van der Bolt5,6, Coleen D. U. Carranza2, Gerbrand Koren3, Rogier van der Velde4, and Adriaan J. Teuling1 Joost Buitink et al.
  • 1Hydrology and Quantitative Water Management Group, Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen, the Netherlands
  • 2Soil Physics and Land Management Group, Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen, the Netherlands
  • 3Meteorology and Air Quality Group, Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen, the Netherlands
  • 4Department of Water Resources, Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation (ITC), University of Twente, Enschede, the Netherlands
  • 5Water Authority Aa en Maas, 's Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands
  • 6Wageningen Environmental Research, Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen, the Netherlands

Abstract. The soil moisture status near the land surface is a key determinant of vegetation productivity. The critical soil moisture content determines the transition from an energy-limited to a water-limited evapotranspiration regime. This study quantifies the critical soil moisture content by comparison of in situ soil moisture profile measurements of the Raam and Twenthe networks in the Netherlands, with two satellite derived vegetation indices (NIRv and VOD) during the 2018 summer drought. The critical soil moisture content is obtained through a piece-wise linear correlation of the NIRv and VOD anomalies with soil moisture on different depths of the profile. This nonlinear relation reflects the observation that negative soil moisture anomalies develop weeks before the first reduction in vegetation indices. Furthermore, the inferred critical soil moisture content was found to increase with observation depth and this relationship is shown to be linear and distinctive per area, reflecting the tendency of roots to take up water from deeper layers when drought progresses. The relations of non-stressed towards water-stressed vegetation conditions on distinct depths are derived using Remote Sensing, enabling the parameterization of reduced evapotranspiration and its effect on GPP in models to study the impact of a drought on the carbon cycle.

Joost Buitink et al.

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Joost Buitink et al.

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Short summary
The amount of water stored in the soil is critical for the productivity of plants. Plant productivity is either limited by the available water, or by the available energy. In this study, we infer this transition point by comparing local observations of water stored in the soil with satellite observations of vegetation productivity. We show that the transition point is not constant with soil depth, indicating that plants use water from deeper layers when the soil gets drying.
The amount of water stored in the soil is critical for the productivity of plants. Plant...
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